Former President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko visits UAlberta

Lecture on Ukraine's geopolitical challenges well-received by students, local community

Arts News Staff - 27 November 2019

Petro Poroshenko, the fifth president of Ukraine, on November 25 addressed a standing-room-only crowd of students, academics and community members "On the Geopolitical Challenges of Ukraine and Ukrainians in the World". The lecture was hosted by the University of Alberta's Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS), the largest centre of research in Ukrainian studies in North America.

Poroshenko spoke of a bridge between Canada and Ukraine with deep historical roots and family ties, and expressed his gratitude to the entire Ukrainian community in Canada for standing shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine. Canada has the world's third-largest Ukrainian population, and Edmonton is home to the largest Ukrainian urban community in the country.

Earlier in the day, Poroshenko visited the Holodomor memorial at Edmonton City Hall, and met with Premier Jason Kenney at the Alberta Legislature. During the lecture, he led a moment of silence for the victims of the famine-genocide.

Before entering politics, Poroshenko was a businessman. His successful confectionery business earned him the nickname the "Chocolate King" of Ukraine.

Under Poreshenko's leadership, Ukraine signed the European Association Agreement, obtaining visa-free travel for Ukrainians in Europe; formalized a free trade agreement with Canada; and opened a Ukrainian Consulate in Edmonton.

"Four decades of CIUS accomplishments have helped define the direction and scope of development of Ukrainian studies not only in North America, but also in Europe and Ukraine," said Jars Balan, Director of CIUS. "Poroshenko's visit is an example of how CIUS brings important conversations to the community."

The University of Alberta has long-standing relationships with academic institutions in Ukraine, as well as with Ukrainian communities across Canada and around the world. The Faculty of Arts is proud to be home to both CIUS and the Kule Centre for Ukrainian and Canadian Folklore. Courses in Ukrainian studies have been offered for many years in the departments of History and Classics, and Modern Languages and Cultural Studies.